I started blogging at the Christian Post in March 2009. (My website and blog were born a couple of years later.) My first article was titled “Atheism in Dallas” (reprinted here) and in it, I recounted my reflections after seeing the late Christopher Hitchens pitted against five (five?!) Christian apologists.
As I recounted in the article, Hitchens didn’t have well-formed arguments and he offered nothing by way of rebuttal to his critics. Nonetheless, he owned the podium by waxing indignantly about the problem of evil and strawmanning his opponents. As I observed, this ill-fated exchange was a reminder that apologetic debate and dialogue are about much more than valid arguments with (plausibly) true premises.
Yesterday, I found this clip from the event online. It’s only a 7-minute excerpt edited by what clearly appears to be a Hitchens fan, but it illustrates my point: Hitchens strawmanned his opponents (e.g. asserting that “heaven” is “indifferent” to human suffering) with a righteously indignant moral fervor. And the pitting of 5-to-1 merely worked in Hitchens’ favor. Check it out for yourself: